Well, here they are in action! Having tracked down the "Landrollers" that Cesar Millan uses in his Dog Whisperer shows, we finally managed to order them via a shop in Amsterdam. Due to all the hullabaloo with the animal travel, we had decided to overnight in Amsterdam so we and the critters could all travel on together the next day and arrive in Madrid together. As it happened of course, none of the plans worked out as we had laid them and so we had a day in Amsterdam for ourselves. This gave us a great opportunity to meet up with a friend and previous Silversand colleague - Annemarie - and we spent a wonderful evening with her and her friend Gerard. It also gave us the opportunity to find out way to the Landroller shop where I tried on the boots for size and placed the order to have them sent to Spain.
Much excitement yesterday when the Landrollers arrived - by courier and at the local gas station (it seems all couriers know the place and after a rapid garble in Spanish arrange to meet recipients there...) fortunately we have managed to successfully arrange the meetings and timings with two couriers there so far - phew! Once they arrived we shot off to get the knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards and helmet at a local sports warehouse (the most amazing place itself and selling some very nice and reasonably priced T shirts!!) Back at the ranch I read all the instructions, researched a kind of "teach yourself roller blading" for the more "mature" user (!!) and got set for the big day. A fantastic site with some great tips was suggested on one of the blogs of "Mature Landroller clients" (one 53 yo lady determined to start and encouraged by a 61 yo guy who was already having fun) and I got to grips with the "learning to stop from a standstill" section. Yes, you did read that right!
Basically, you find a patch of grass or some carpet and just get yourself into the stop position and practice over and over. It has been well over 12 years since I last skiied and my ski legs (it's very similar) are certainly out of practice. The muscles in the legs get tired quickly so 10 mins per day practice is good to start with. If anyone is interested, although it is mostly for in-line skates, it is very helpful for anyone with Landrollers and to those who suggested it - thank you, it was of great help (check out www.getrolling.com).
The first practice session under my belt and some "quiet people and traffic free practice places discovered" we set off to have the first rolling session. For those "in the know" about the Philippe Karl horsemanship that I have enjoyed in RSA - you will find it amusing also that you start with "raised hands" when using Landrollers also - for exactly the same reasons too, that you have to balance correctly and not pull back with the arms. And as you are without reins (no horse's mouth to pull on when riding on Landrollers!) it means you have a much better chance of falling over. If attached to a horse of course you would be "pulling" on the mouth with backward and pulling hands... but that's another story and another life! Having spent time riding horses though it helps a huge amount with getting the feel for the Landrollers - it's almost like a jumping position when you fist start out and you have to push not pull - including pushing into the stop. You have to push the bum and curl the pelvis down but without rounding the spine and you have to maintain the shoulder, hip, heel alignment. Knees must remain supple - being your shock absorbers - and the body must be relaxed but not floppy. From this - balance is finally achieved, but it is easy for the brain to want to try and "control" and think rather than "feel". The same old story... for those who know, you will be smiling.
It was fabulous fun and although a bit unsteady and taking it easy as suggested, regularly practicing the stops and then the "brake dragging" technique, I soon felt happy to coast a few metres and start pushing off into skating mode, even if the strides are at this stage shorter. The dogs looked on as though this is a regular occurrence in their lives - or they realise it will be at some point and Michael kindly caught the last run on camera - which is the clip added above. It's going to be some time before I'm off with the Ridgebacks "husky" style and I need to be a little more certain about them listening too before we perform together but the next steps will be to get them used to the idea of moving along with me. We will get that going well before the next stage so don't hold your breath - it could be some time before you get that video clip!
For Landroller info and videos check out www.landroller.com.